Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Beth Morrey's "Delphine Jones Takes a Chance"

Beth Morrey‘s work has been published in the Cambridge and Oxford May Anthologies and shortlisted for the Grazia Orange First Chapter competition. She lives in London with her family and Polly the dog.

Morrey's debut novel is The Love Story of Missy Carmichael.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, Delphine Jones Takes a Chance:
I never write with the idea that my novel might be made into a movie or TV show. For me, the ultimate aim is to see the spine of my book on a shelf, and if I achieve that then I’m happy. Once it’s done though, it’s hard not to imagine it on screen, put yourself in the casting director’s role and go crazy. But with my second book, Delphine Jones Takes a Chance, I think the job would be a hard one. It tells the story of a struggling single mother who tries to build a better life for herself and her daughter Em. The book also unpicks the mystery of why Delphine’s life went wrong in the first place.

Truthfully, no one springs to mind to play Delphine. She’s a tough nut to crack – guarded, elusive, a little mysterious. I must admit I’m stumped, and after mulling on it a while, I decided I would like an amalgamation of two actresses to play her. This is a fantasy, right, so why not?! I’d have Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her role in Frankie and Johnny – she plays a ground-down waitress, which is what Delphine is at the beginning of the book. And I’d add Thandiwe Newton, who I think has the reserved yet keenly intelligent quality I’d be looking for in my Delphine.

The character of Letty is easier. The redoubtable and outrageous old lady who Delphine befriends could be played by a national treasure like the magnificent Maggie Smith. I also picture Jeanne Moreau, because of the French connection. Although Letty is not French, she is a Francophile, and her gleeful insouciance was inspired in part by Moreau playing Lili in a long-ago drama called The Clothes in the Wardrobe. So, Maggie with a dash of Moreau would be perfect.

Delphine’s daughter Em would be another casting headache. I conceived her as a kind of modern-day Matilda, but slightly ruthless and manipulative, using her intelligence as a weapon. With no one in mind, I think I’d prefer to audition exhaustively and cast a complete unknown who we could turn into a star. That would be an exciting process.

And Dylan, Delphine’s jazz pianist love interest… ideally, I’d like him to be played by Luke Kirby, who plays Lenny Bruce in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Except with a Welsh accent. If he can’t do Welsh then I’d have to have Michael Sheen, but younger. And he’d have to be able to play the piano. This is all getting out of hand now.

Oh, what the hell: I want Greta Gerwig to adapt it and direct it. Greta, if you’re reading, give me a call.
Visit Beth Morrey's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Beth Morrey & Polly.

My Book, The Movie: The Love Story of Missy Carmichael.

Q&A with Beth Morrey.

The Page 69 Test: Delphine Jones Takes a Chance.

--Marshal Zeringue